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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: New Jersey Port Authority Scandal


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Congressmen Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell are both Democrats from New Jersey. Let me start with Congressman Pallone. And this whole idea -- I know we can`t judge before a law -- before courtroom is set and before the jury makes its finding, but it does seem to be an interesting cultural question.

Is it credible, would it surprise you, to put it up this way, to find out that Chris Christie was totally uninterested in everything his staff did, that he wasn`t interested in whether they sought vengeance or they wanted to hurt somebody who had failed to play ball with them, that they didn`t -- he wasn`t interested in whether they were putting on a squeeze play, perhaps, with regard to Hoboken, that he just wasn`t interested in power.

Is that the guy you know, Congressman Pallone?


MATTHEWS: Not interested in power?

PALLONE: No, it`s -- I don`t think it`s credible, because,first of all, we know this culture of bullying and threats existed within the administration for years.

And, you know, that leads to abuse of power. And so to suggest that somehow he is not responsible, I mean, he is the one at the top that created this culture of, as I say, threats and bullying that we know about. And these are just some extreme examples of it, you know, very serious charges that are being brought.

But I think he has long been in charge of that, you know, cultural mentality, as you might put it.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Pascrell, same question to you. Does this seem credible that out of all these questions and all these e-mails and all these text messages, we will find no evidence that the boss was the boss?

REP. BILL PASCRELL JR. (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, already, what we do know -- and that`s very little -- and I`m sure the committee is going to look into this, as they subpoena more records.

What they will provide to the committee, who knows. But, you know, Chris, in our business, it`s what goes around comes around. And we can`t be glib about this, because this is serious business. Frank and I have been looking into not only what happened in the G.W. Bridge. We sent letters -- I sent a letter back on September the 13th of last year. Never got an answer about the bridge closing, the lane closings.

But we have been -- we have got letters, document, that we have looked into how Sandy money was being spent. This is just another brick in this wall between the administration and the people of New Jersey. They haven`t been forthcoming. The company of Hammerman and Gainer, all of a sudden, we find out two weeks after the event happened that they let them go. They were the overseers of the money of how this money is being spent.

I think they had over a $55 million contract with the state of New Jersey. And yet people are still out of their homes in the state of New Jersey. This is incredible. We don`t need e-mails. We can just look at what the record is of how much money we haven`t spent from the last allocation. And we`re to be get our new allocation in New Jersey for the coming months.

So there is a lot here. Let`s get the facts out on the table. I don`t wish anybody harm. I have never in my record, in my total career in politics never wished anybody harm. And the governor has a lot to account for before he was the governor and after he is the governor. And I think the people of New Jersey are going to get the truth sooner or later.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Congressman Pallone on that.

I guess I`m one of those who is guilty of liking, to me, the charming sort of independence of behavior he did with the media and people like us, saying, I don`t really care what you think. But if it goes further than that, to the bullying, goes to this really manipulation of power, that`s the question.

Is it your sense that this guy didn`t care? It was his way or no highway? If you don`t go along with him, there is no highway, to use that reference, that he was willing to play that tough. Was he like that with you? I`m not going to answer any of your questions. I`m doing it my way. I`m firing and hiring contracts when I want to. I`m opening and closing what I want and that`s the way I`m going to be. And I got people around me who are going to protect me.

Is that your notion of the governor`s performance so far?

PALLONE: I think it is.

I mean, as you know, Bill Pascrell is talking about this effort that we have been critical of with HGI. Now, this is the company that administered the Sandy contract, which now last week we learned was fired. We don`t know who is administrating that money now. And there is a serious question of what happened there.

You have Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, saying that she was threatened, that she had to approve a development project if she wanted Sandy money. I brought out to the inspector general at HUD that he took a high bidder for the "Stronger Than the Storm" TV ad series because he insisted that he had to be in the commercials, and that`s why the high bidder was chosen.

So we have a pattern here of just saying, look, I`m going to do whatever I want. Put the ads on, or else. Approve this development contract., or else you`re not going to get Sandy money. And I have to tell you, my constituents are hurting. You know, I represent the Jersey Shore.

We have people that are on waiting lists, that don`t know why they`re on waiting lists, that haven`t gotten their money to rebuild their homes. I mean, you been down there, Chris. You know what it`s like. A lot of the people are still hurting.


Well, you make it sound like a dictatorship, you guys. Is this what it`s been up in Trenton, a dictatorship, Congressman Pascrell?


PALLONE: -- bullying. Bullying and threats, that`s been the culture.

PASCRELL: Chris, let me say this.

The governor has really had a motto, do as I say, not what I do. And what he does is now coming out. Now, of course, it`s after the election. He has been duly elected. He has been sworn in as governor for the next four years. But that`s not going to stop people from asking about the very issues that you have referred to in your past shows and Frank has just been talking about some of them. And this is important that we get to the bottom of this.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman Bill Pascrell.

PALLONE: Thank you.

PASCRELL: Thank you.


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